I’d also like to know if it is ethical for filmmakers to misrepresent timelines of events or delay handing over information to create more suspense. What pressures are filmmakers under when they make their decisions? Thanks for your help.
Filmmakers do not really come to assist the police, except if you are talking about the general image of the police force that is portrayed through film, and that will go a long way in the way we end up thinking of the police. Perhaps you meant the responsibility of fimmakers to stick with the reality of events, and the right chronology vs their commitment to narrative.
There really is not simple answer. Some formats themselves require a larger commitment to truth and reality than narrative, like the documentary format. However, when it comes to non-documentary formats, the narrative structure and the narrative itself become the focus- people are not watching a movie to find out what happened, they can go to the news for that. A movie that is narrating an incident or a series of real events often focuses on things like humanistic aspects (emotions, perspectives, etc), the larger picture (historically or politically) and so. The point being that movies are a form of narrative, and that, to all intents and purposes, a filmmaker is free to exaggerate or even distort some aspects to make a more compelling story. A movie is a piece of art, and essentially constitutes one, or several points of view, not an objective God’s eye picture of reality. That said, it is generally the case that when the narrative is deviating a lot from the actual events, there are disclaimers placed. Even compelling audience critique often points out any bias or distortion, creating a useful dialogue to open the issue up.